OCES launches Speak Up campaign

  • Speaking upKiara Savage '13 is one of the students who have recorded Speak Up campaign videos. Her video focuses on education inequality.

    Screenshot from Kiara's video

    Speaking up

William & Mary students are taking their passionate messages about social justice issues beyond the walls of campus via the power of YouTube.

The Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship (OCES) recently launched the Speak Up campaign, a series of videos featuring students talking about the issues that are important to them, from affordable housing to elder care.

Speak Up is an offshoot of the annual Stand Up campaign, which encourages students to stand up for their causes in some way – whether through speeches, service or learning. The week-long, spring campaign usually features a soap box event, in which students literally stand on a box in a public place on campus and tell people about their causes.

Elizabeth Miller, coordinator for student & community engagement, used that idea as well as the OCES speaker series as inspiration for the Speak Up campaign.

Miller, who admits to being “a little bit obsessed” with TED Talks (a nonprofit that promotes “ideas worth spreading” through videos of experts discussing singular topics), wanted to find a venue to allow students talk about their experiences and perspectives.

“For the past four years as a student and now as a staff member, I got to see how engaged and passionate students were, so (I wanted) an opportunity for them to speak up and really get that message out,” she said.

Miller said that shooting the videos, which are approximately three minutes long, was a learning experience for both her and the students.

“It’s been really great for me to work with students to figure out how do you say what you want to say in only three minutes in a way that’s accessible but meaningful,” she said.

Currently, five videos are available on the Speak Up YouTube channel featuring the following students: Noah Kim ‘13 on affordable housing, Cassie Powell ’12 on the achievement gap, Andrea Lin '13 on elder care, Molly Bulman ’12 on hunger awareness, and Kiara Savage ‘13 on education inequality. Without any promotion by OCES, the videos have already received between approximately 45 and 120 views.

“It’s cool to see that people are watching and talking about them,” said Miller.

Four additional videos – focusing on privilege, people with disabilities, international service and immigration -- have also been recorded and are expected to premiere on the channel in January. Miller hopes to add about 15 more videos to the channel in the spring semester and has begun to look at possibly getting faculty members involved, too. Anyone interested in creating a Speak Up video may contact Miller at efmiller@wm.edu for more information.

However, Miller has no plans on recording a video herself.

“I think that’s a good thing,” she said. “This is a chance for the students to speak. I already have the soap box of my office, it’s important to show the students and the community that everyone has ways that they’re engaged.”

Miller plans to host an evening of Speak Up in the spring to showcase the videos and encourage participants to engage in conversation with others. The annual Stand Up campaign is slated for February 2012.